Tuesday, October 09, 2012

The Study of Beauties

...nothing is so improving to the temper as the study of the beauties, either of poetry, eloquence, music, or painting. They give a certain elegance of sentiment to which the rest of mankind are strangers. The emotions which they excite are soft and tender. They draw off the mind from the hurry of business and interest; cherish reflection; dispose to tranquillity; and produce an agreeable melancholy, which, of all dispositions of the mind, is the best suited to love and friendship.

David Hume, Of the Delicacy of Taste and Passion. Hume is arguing for Ovid's maxim, Adde quod [or Scilicet, as it's often quoted] ingenuas didicisse fideliter artes / Emollit mores nec sinit esse feros, which is usually translated, "Therefore [or: Add to this,] to have studied faithfully the liberal arts softens behavior, not letting it be savage." Francis Bacon also discusses this maxim in The Advancement of Learning (1.8), and so does Joseph Addison in The Spectator No. 215 (6 November 1711). Owing in part to its use in Latin grammar exercises, it seems to have been a remarkably popular proverb in nineteenth-century Britain. The second half of it, incidentally, is also the motto of the University of South Carolina.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please understand that this weblog runs on a third-party comment system, not on Blogger's comment system. If you have come by way of a mobile device and can see this message, you may have landed on the Blogger comment page, or the third party commenting system has not yet completely loaded; your comments will only be shown on this page and not on the page most people will see, and it is much more likely that your comment will be missed.